Western Macedonia > Struga
Struga has always been in the shadow of Ohrid, as Ohrid has more monuments and better preserved houses. But Struga can still be a fun daytrip from Ohrid if one combines it with a trip to the villages on the west coast of lake Ohrid where main sight, aside from the nice quiet beaches, are the cave churches. Unlike Ohrid which is situated on hills, Struga is flat, spread around Drim river. It is a great place to relax with a cup of coffee by the river.
In ancient time the city was known as Enchalon, which means eel (fishing eels in Drim river was very popular in Struga up until recently). The Via Egnatia road that connected Rome with Thesaloniki and Constantinople passed through Struga. The name Struga was used for the first time in a document in the 11th c, but it originates from the 7th c. The Byzantine travel writer Ana Komnina visited Struga in the 11th century and named it “City of 100 bridges”. While Ohrid was always cultural and religious centre, Struga played the role of trading centre of the region. It still does and a visit on market day can be fun. In the 19th century Struga played important part in the national revival as it was home town of Konstantin and Dimitar Miladinovi, brothers who collected and published a collection of folk songs (named "Folk songs from Macedonia") in 1862. Konstantin Miladinov wrote Sorrow for the south (also translated as 'Longing for the South') during his studies in Saint Petersburg. Today, in his honour, the biggest poetry festivals in the world is held in Struga every year.
- The river Drim, which enters Ohrid lake in the St.Naum monastery, comes out in Struga after going through the whole lake.
- Vlado Maleski, a poet from Struga wrote the Macedonian national anthem "Denes nad Makedonija se raga". It was sung for the first time in Struga.
- The Vasilica carnival in Vevčani village has been held on 14th & 15th of January for over 1500 years.
- 1 Long distance bus station, ☏ .
- 2 Minibus stop. Gathering point for minibuses going to Ohrid (E 15km). Buses leave once every 20-40 minutes and cost 100 denars. There are also shared taxis to Ohrid, which cost 100 denars per person as well.
- 3 Bus companies' offices, Partizanska 15 bb, ☏ . A few kiosks selling tickets to various destinations. One of them, Euro linia, operates buses to/from Vlore in Albania (passing Elbasan, Tirana €13, Durres), and departs from Struga at 05:00 and 06:00. Coaches to Skopje (via Tetovo) leave at 05:00, 08:00, 10:00, 17:00. Bus connection with Germany.
Struga is small and easiest to get around is by walking. To visit the cave churches on the west coast of Ohrid lake take a taxi or check out the bus schedule. A 15 minutes walk along the lake will take you to Kalishta village and cave monastery.
Unfortunately Struga has lost most of its old houses and atmosphere. Still one can enjoy a pleasant walk around the city and spend an hour or two here.
- 1 Old Bazaar (City Market, Градски пазар), Marshal Tito St. is a straight street, and today has more cafes than shops. It ends with a lively market.
- 2 St.George Church (Црква Свети Ѓорги), Marshal Tito St (On the end of 'Old Bazaar straight street' after the crossroad). This is a good example of revival period architecture built in 1835. The church is most famous for the St.George Icon painted in 1267, and considered miraculous as it was found in the lake. The only part of the city which has managed to preserve couple of old houses and atmosphere is along Goce Delcev Street left of the old bazaar. It starts with a lovely small stone house which once was a residence of church officials (notice the small altar of the chapel that once was in the house).
- Traditional houses (next to St.George Church). there are couple of traditional houses preserved, including the so-called island house as it stands alone in the middle of a small square.
- 3 Halveti Teke (Халвети Теќе). - is one of the most representative examples of Ottoman architecture in Struga and it is protected by the Macedonian Cultural Memorial Institute. The tekke (Muslim monastery) was established by Hasan Baba (Asan Dede) in the beginning of the 18th century and consists of five rooms in the shape of the letter T.
- 4 Miladinovci House (Куќата на браќата Миладиновци) (on Braka Miladinovci and Niko Nestor Streets right from the bazaar). interesting examples of traditional architecture. in which the brothers were born and lived and today it serves as a museum dedicated to them.
- 5 Vangel Kodzoman Gallery (Галерија Вангел Коџоман) (Right opposite of Miladinovci House). one of the most famous Macedonian painters of the 20th c. Checking out his paintings will show you Struga which unfortunately does not exist any more.
- 6 Nikola Nezlobinski Nature Museum (Никола Незлобински Музејот на природата), Niko Nestor Street, ☏ , email@example.com. The museum was founded in 1928 by Nikola Nezlobinski, a Russian doctor who lived and worked in Struga after the October Revolution.
West coast of Ohrid Lake
- 7 Kalishta cave monastery (Манастир Калишта) (S 4 km, on the lake shore, near Kalista village). It constitutes 3 churches: the main 17th century Holy Mother of God church, 13th century cave church built into the rock and smaller Saint Peter and Paul's church built in 1990.
- 8 St. Atanasie cave church (Пештерска црква Свети Атанасиј) (S 5 km, close to Kalishta monastery). It has ancient frescoes which dates back to the 14th century. Some of the them painted in 19th century as well.
- 9 Radozda village and St. Mihail cave church (S 9 km). A 14th century cave church built in the natural caves and decorated with frescoes.
Away from the lake:
- Vevčani village (NW 14 km)
- 10 Gorna Belica village (NW 11 km). Almost abandoned mountain village 1600 m above sea level. It has a few apartments and a new hotel
- "Struga Poetry Evenings - is held in the second half of August for over 40 years now. There are two rewards given, one for lifetime achievement, and one for a young poet (if you have just published your first book of poetry send it to UNESCO, as they decide who gets this award).
- Klimetica, ☏ .
- T'ga Za Jug, ☏ .
- Dardania, ☏ .
- Sv.Nikola, Goce Delcev 88, ☏ . Macedonian national restaurant where you can find the most amazing national food. The location of this restaurant is very good, next to the river Drim, where you can enjoy food and relaxing music.
Same as in Ohrid, accommodation is easy in Struga as many people rent rooms starting from €15 per person per night. Here is a list of some hotels in Struga:
- 1 Inex Drim, Kej Boris Kidric 51, ☏ . This is a four star hotel that is perfectly matching with the old architecture of this town and the old bazaar around it. It is on the bank of the Drim River. There are 50 rooms inside, a few restaurants, a night club, a casino, an automatic bowling room, indoor and outdoor pools, a congress center, and a tennis court.
- Royal, Marshal Tito Road, ☏ . This new hotel is one of the finest in Struga. It is located within 5 minutes walk from the town center and the town market. The hotel disposes to its guests 31 rooms (single, double and triple), equipped with everything necessary to make your stay complete, a restaurant and a summer terrace-garden.
- Montenegro, Dimce Kovaceski 20, ☏ . New family-run hotel on a great location. Sgl/dbl/tpl €19/30/45 (2014).
- 2 Motel Venecia (Apartments Venecia), Marsal Tito bb (100 m away from central promenade), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Decent, big (60m2) apartments. Good location. Fantastic owners. Wi-Fi. 2 big shops right underneath the building. Fully equipped kitchen. Long term rent is also possible. There is no lake view from apartments and bedroom lacks sunlight. €15 - €20 per apartment.
- Ohrid, the most famous city on Lake Ohrid, is just 15 km away and full of culture.
- Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park is a mountainous national park just across the border in Albania.